Tag Archives: miracles

The working of miracles is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit listed in 1 Corinthians 12: anyone can be used by the Holy Spirit to operate in this gift, just as in all the others.

Jesus Talking

According to a personal evangelism course called “Talking Jesus,” a high number of people come to faith as a result of “conversations with a Christian.” I think it was about 35%; the only higher number (over 40%) being those who grew up in a Christian family. This is good to know, as we all need as much encouragement as possible to share the gospel! The lowest figure of the five mentioned (the others were, and I think I am quoting correctly, “attending  a standard church service”, and “experiencing the love of Jesus) was 17%, which is the number of Christians who have come to faith (as I did, in fact) through an “unexplained spiritual experience.” But I can’t help thinking that this 17% is a sad reflection of the state of the church today, and how far removed it is from the pattern set by Paul, for example, who came to the Corinthians “not with persuasive words of human  wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” (1 Cor 2: 4-5)

Actually, Jesus never told us to “share our faith.” He told us to “make disciples,” and He said “”you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me  in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth”  (Acts 1:8). The Greek word for witness is “martyr.” We all know one meaning of that, which is something that I don’t think any of us want to be; but the other meaning is “spectator.” This passage seems to be telling us that when the power of the Holy Spirit comes upon us we will watch Jesus (be spectators) doing His work – the works of the Father, in fact. This is what happened throughout the Book of Acts, and this is what happened with Paul at Corinth. We have consigned the meaning of the word to being witnesses of what Jesus did, rather what He is doing now; and from that we have created an activity called ”witnessing,” which, as far as I can see, is actually divorced from the model that we are given in the New Testament.

“The word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Heb 4:12) When Jesus (today, through the Holy Spirit) speaks, one of two things happen: people run, or they turn (I’m quoting my wife, Anne, here). They don’t just stand there and say, “Yes, that’s interesting.  Of course you are entitled to your opinion.” In politics and business especially, the power of influence is sometimes called “leverage.” Judging by the figures we are given in the Book of Acts, the leverage of Holy Spirit empowered signs and wonders confirming the preaching of the Word is very high. By contrast, the leverage of other forms of evangelism has to be much lower. What would the figures look like if we were to carry on in the biblical pattern, hungering and thirsting in prayer for the Holy Spirit to come and do the works of Jesus for us to witness, instead of just trying to “witness” ourselves?

It is God’s heart and our calling that we reach out to as many as we can with the good news of salvation. The world needs to see how much we love one another, because that is how it will know that we are disciples of Christ. But Jesus didn’t say that this is enough to make new disciples; He only said that it confirms the truth of who we are in Him. Although there may be some people who are drawn to the light that they see in us, I think the New Testament pattern for making new disciples is to be witnesses of His work among those who don’t know Him. We need to ask Jesus who He is calling and we need to pray for them and ask for opportunities for them to meet Him. But when we are with them, we mustn’t be like tradesmen without a toolkit: we need the gifts of the Holy Spirit if we are to witness Jesus in operation. Without them, our leverage is poor or non-existent, but with them, how many more people exponentially would be coming to faith as that 17% became 37%, 47%, 57% or more? Because this is what happens when revival comes.

A friend at Wildwood Church was saying recently how she was with someone and the Holy Spirit said “talk about THAT” (Whatever THAT was, or who it was, of course she didn’t say.) Her first thought was “No, I can’t mention THAT!” But she obeyed. Tears, repentance, and blessing followed. She simply used a gift from the toolbox – in this case, a word of knowledge. Her talking  was leveraged by the power of the Holy Spirit. As Paul exhorted Timothy, we need to be ready to preach the word “in season and out of season.” (2 Tim 4:2), so we certainly do need  to be talking Jesus; but most of all we need to see Jesus do the talking.

The Works of the Father

The heart of the Son was, and still is, always to reveal the Father. His expressed desire throughout His ministry was for the world to know that the Father sent Him, and was in Him, doing His Works, bringing Heaven to Earth. He tells the Jews “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe  that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.” (John 10:38) He says the same thing to the disciples: “Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves.” (John 14:11)

Jesus is clear; He is also emphatic. He says that the works He does by the power and in the authority of the Father who is in Him demonstrate the truth of the words He speaks.  There are not many instances where He repeats Himself in one gospel account, and nowhere else does He say the same, privately, to His disciples as He does openly to the Jews. So this is not just a footnote to the New Testament that we can choose to skip over or ignore; it is a headline statement that defines our understanding of our call to make disciples of all nations.

It is often repeated: we are not just called to preach the Gospel; we are called to make disciples. Jesus made disciples; His disciples made disciples, and disciples have kept making disciples for 2000 years. As cells of natural life multiply, so too do cells of eternal life. God’s principles work on every level, on Earth as in Heaven. Each cell reproduces its own DNA for life to continue. “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (John 17:3) When the Holy Spirit fell, the DNA of Jesus was passed on to His disciples so that they could continue to reveal the Father through His works (John 14:12). As disciples make disciples it continues in all who are born again into the Kingdom of God, “of water and the Spirit” (John 3:5).

To teach that Christians should not expect to reproduce the works of the Father not only denies the importance of the various scriptures that refer to signs and wonders following the preaching of the Word; it ignores the fact that Jesus Christ Himself validated the message of the Kingdom through them. If Jesus needed miracles for people to be convinced that He was the Son of God, how much more do we? The works of the Father are not an option; they are a necessity. They are in our DNA.  Ministries that deny the gifts of the Holy Spirit through which these works are accomplished “have a form of godliness but deny its power,” and Paul’s instruction is specific: we must “stay away from them.” (2 Tim 3:5) Their incomplete gospel is missing a gene and breeds a sick church.

I believe that the Bible is clear: we, as the brothers of Jesus (Romans 8:29), born of the same Father and filled with the same Spirit, are made of the same spiritual DNA; and one of our genes is the one that reproduces the works of the Father as proof that “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) Without that gene we are incomplete. So let’s ask, seek, and knock; let’s wait on the Lord to renew our strength; let’s pray fervently; let’s repent of the unbelief that tells us that the miraculous would be nice, but isn’t really what we are looking for right now: whatever it is, let’s just get on our knees like Paul on the Damascus Road and say, “Lord, what would you have me do?”

Because if we want to convince the world that God loves it so much that He gave Jesus for its salvation, we need to see the works of the Father in our churches.